Sunday, January 31, 2010

Teaching applique

I had fun yesterday morning, teaching a class in beginning applique at A Quilter's Garden, our local quilt shop. After years of teaching library science, it was really nice to be "back in the saddle."

There were five students and they all arrived early with all of their supplies - ideal! The project we are working on is pictured at left, and people were encouraged to bring their own color ways. Several had found fabric that looked like baskets, and they all found the bias handle quite challenging.

The shop owner had misplaced my two samples (the other is in batiks) during a recent move, so I had to refer people to the tiny picture at the top of their supply list. I am making another block in black, white, and red, so will have that at a stage that I hope will help them visualize the project next week. I do hope the two samples I made will be found, though, because they will make nice tote bags.

This week, they are basting pattern pieces to freezer paper, making plastic circle templates, and sewing the handles down. Next Saturday, I'll demonstrate sewing the pieces down, removing the freezer paper, making circles using the plastic templates, and yo yos, both the old fashioned way and with the yo yo maker. If there's time, I'll show how to make those tiny dimensional flowers (backwards yo yos with embroidery floss - quite easy when you know how). I think my black and white sample will include a yo yo from my retirement stash by Sue, assistant librarian in Enosburg.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Quiltin' 'n' bakin'

When it finally got light enough to look outside at the thermometer this morning, it was a mere 4 degrees. I heard the wind howl all night, so I imagine the wind chill factor was pretty low. Even though it was sunny, it was a good day to stay in, bake and quilt! I started sandwiching the Dear Jane Christmas swap quilt yesterday, so finished pinning this morning and got right to it.

Took a little break mid-morning to get the slow rise bread on its way to a second rise. I made this a few days ago and wasn't happy with the result. With new yeast, perhaps it would be better. We had it for dinner tonight, and I think I will move on to a new recipe. The beauty of this one was that it didn't need kneading and could rise for 18-24 hours before tipping it into a pan to rise and bake. No problem - I also made some delicious chocolate chip cookies! Here's the recipe:

(adapted from "America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book" by the editors at America's Test Kitchen)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees (I actually had it at 350) and line 2 baking sheets with parchment.
Melt 1 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter. When cool, beat in 1 c. brown sugar and 1/2 c. white sugar until smooth. Beat in an egg, an egg yolk, and 2 t. vanilla.

Add to bowl: 1/2 t. baking soda, 1/2 t. salt, and 2 cups plus 2 T. all-purpose flour. Mix very well and add 1 1/2 c. of chocolate chips.

Drop by tablespoonfuls onto baking sheets, and bake 15-20 min. Allow cookies to cool slightly on baking sheets before moving them to a rack to cool completely (if you can stand to let them sit uneaten for that long). Makes about 3 dozen chewy cookies.

I did quilt on the Christmas Jane on and off all day, and even sewed the binding around. But I think it needs a little more quilting on the borders, which I will attempt tomorrow afternoon. Still, I am happy to be almost finished with the quilt I was hoping to finish before Thanksgiving!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Working feverishly

It has been a busy week of various meetings, but in between I managed to finish what I am now calling "The Big Purple Quilt" and mail it to the long arm quilter over in Wells River (Vermont). It had 30 blocks, each bordered with 1" print sashing, and then with grape sashing between the blocks. I put a 3" border of the same print around the whole quilt that ended up measuring 86" x 97". It was a little too wide for just two strips of fabric for the back, so I ended up adding a thin center strip to the beige back. I plan to use the same print for the binding, which I need to cut before I forget about it. Forgot to take a photo before I boxed it up for the post office!

Meanwhile, Tuesday night's quilt guild meeting featured an "Easy Stack" quilt technique. Just what I needed: another UFO! But it was really fun. We each brought some yardage of a larger print fabric, found the repeat, and stacked four identical pieces of fabric. Then we cut 3.5" squares and arranged them in a sort of kaleidescope fashion. This is sort of like the "Stack and Whack" quilt but easier since the result is a simple four patch. I don't usually make quilts from patterns for which I buy specific fabrics. I used a lovely fabric - Northcott's "Tulip Time" by Ro Gregg, pink and blue tulips on a soft yellow background - and the result was lovely.

Before I knew it, I had made 42 four patches, so I ran back to the quilt shop for some coordinating fabric. Yesterday, I surrounded 30 square-in-a-square fashion and put them together. It looks very pretty. Today I'll add some borders to get to a lap quilt size. I'll still have some squares left over for spring table runners. At our guild meeting, we signed up for a UFO challenge - this was before I generated these new UFOs, unfortunately. So I still have four things to tackle and finish by the June meeting. Still, it's fun to work with something new.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Sewing for the home

Don't know why, but I really don't like sewing clothing or curtains. The last time I needed to hem some curtains, I used fusible web. Paul asked how I did it so fast, and he laughed when I just said "glue." But those hems are holding up well, as is the hem I did on a pair of pants. But our kitchen windows really needed some dressing up, so yesterday I started making some valances using 4 yards of white muslin and strips of Dutch fabric sister Jacqueline sent me. It took less than two hours to finish - why did I drag my feet for so long? Anyway, here's the front window. The room looks much brighter, which is great on a gray day like today.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

More purple blocks

Last week we had some very cold days, but they were perfect for working on the purple quilt. I now have 24 blocks made. Here's the latest batch. I am enjoying this since I am dipping way down deep into my purple box. Most of my fabric is divided by color into plastic shoe boxes. Some colors have totes, though, and purple is one of them. The other colors with totes have green, red, and blue fabric in them.

I particularly enjoyed making the watering can block since I made a similar one in 1994 for a tulip sampler I entered into the Vermont Quilt Festival and which also hung in the Vermont building that fall at "The Big E," the New England States Exposition.

I have two more blocks that I'm appliqueing and plans for a few more pieced blocks. Will 30 be my limit? I still have plenty of purple left, and my goal is to be able to close the box. We'll see!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Oatmeal-raisin muffins

Brrrr! It was near zero this morning, and we had a gorgeous sunrise at about 7 am. The sky was a beautiful pink and lavender. Sorry I couldn't have taken a photo but I knew anything I took wouldn't do it justice. So I made some muffins instead. The recipe came from the Dannon Yogurt container:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease a large muffin tin (8-9 cups only).

Mix in bowl:
1 c. flour
1. c. rolled oats
1/2 c. brown sugar (or substitute)
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/2 c. raisins

Mix well in large measuring cup:
1 c. vanilla "Lite & Fit" yogurt
1 egg
2 T. canola oil

Mix wet ingregients into dry, just until combined. Fill 8-9 muffin tins, and bake 22-25 min. Yum!